GreatEye (great_eye) wrote,

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Where did the media go? The RIAA cases and big media coverage

A couple of years ago, I couldn't look at the news headlines without seeing one more story about the RIAA, many about the RIAA lawsuits. I followed the RIAA lawsuit news closely for several reasons. 1) As a former Intellectual Property attorney who did a fair amount of copyright work, I found them fascinating, especially as the RIAA's legal theories did not seem to comport with copyright law (specifically space-shifting area of the fair use doctrine) as I understood it. 2) The privacy implications to individuals, especially in the area of subpoenas issued to the ISP's. and 3) My growing fears that copyright law was being overextended in the direction of business interests to the detriment of consumers and content creators.

But in the past few months, there have been some groundbreaking developments in these cases, developments that are potentially quite detrimental to the RIAA - like this week when a judge granted the motion to allow the defendant (Marie Lindor) to argue against the constitutionality of the $750-per-song statutory penalty as she properly backed up her motion with legal precedents and presented evidence that the amount was 1,071 times the actual monetary damage suffered by the recording industry.

In my opinion that's news. Much more newsworthy than the story I saw today about some idiots in California who are banning the Pledge of Allegiance in student group meetings (I mean c'mon - can't they see that's as stupid as requiring it!). That story, by the way made the headlines on Google News, AOL's news homepage, and possibly Yahoo! News (to be fair, I'm not positive I saw it on Yahoo!).

But where is this news story? Certainly not in the news headline aggregators. Well, surely, some noteworthy newspapers or TV media have covered it? The NY Times, Washington Post, CNN? Nope. Ok, the case is in Brooklyn, surely SOME New York media outlet is covering it. Nope.

According to a search on Google news, you can find this story in the media giants: Ars Technica,, BetaNews, and slashdot. (Happily, if you do this search on Google blogs, you will find 4 pages of results already covering this story.)

So what happened to the media coverage?

{sarcasm warning} I don't suppose it had anything to do with the fact that the 8 largest media companies in the U.S. are parties [actual parties as RIAA members or interested parties (like MPAA members who have been filing amicus briefs on behalf of the RIAA interests)] in these lawsuits?

FYI, the 8 largest media companies are:

General Electric (NBC, Universal Pictures, The Bravo Channel, the Sci-fi Channel ...)
Time Warner (Warner (music), Time Magazine, Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO, Cinemax ...)
Vivendi Universal (estimated distributor of 22% of the global music sales)
News Corporation (think Rupert Murdoch - that's Fox, 20th Century Fox, etc.)
Bertelsmann (music publisher Sony BMG Music Entertainment)
Viacom (MTV, Paramount Pictures, etc.)

Also, FYI
The RIAA members EMI, Sony-BMG, Universal Music and Warner distribute over 95 percent of all music CDs sold worldwide.

So much for the ideal of the media being the fourth branch of government. The fourth branch of government is big business.


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  • Whack bang and splat

    Boy, computing is sure a violent business, huh? I knew about bang, but just learned the splats and whacks. Sounds like an old Batman cartoon! \!*

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